I’m on the record with my opinion that the 2023 Clemson Football defensive line is better than the 2022 “Avengers” version, so I don’t think anyone would be surprised that I give them an A for this season so far. It might be closer to an A- than an A+, but an A nonetheless.
In the preseason, I was concerned about how well the Tigers would hold up at defensive end due to a lack of depth and experience. I had far fewer concerns about the defensive tackles.
With the return of Tyler Davis and Ruke Orhorhoro, the Tigers had two experienced guys in the starting lineup. The depth provided by Payton Page and Demonte Capehart meant they had solid guys who could step in if there were injuries.
The presence of freshman Peter Woods was icing on the cake. Clemson would be able to bring him along at a pace appropriate for how quickly he progressed.
It hasn’t taken long for Woods to carve out his playing time. Against Wake Forest, Woods had the most snaps after the two starters. He was only three snaps less than Orhorhoro. PFF gave Woods his best grade of the season thus far.
Peter Woods saw almost as many snaps as the starters for Clemson Football against Wake Forest
We can never tell when a freshman might hit the proverbial wall, but assuming that doesn’t happen, I think we will only see Woods’s role continue to grow as the season progresses. I don’t think there is a need for him to step into the starting lineup, but that could just be a technicality.
There hasn’t been a need for TJ Parker to step into the starting line-up, but as we saw against Wake Forest, he ended up with more snaps than one of the starters. He’s been too good to keep off the field.
Woods might be playing himself into a similar status. Coach Nick Eason might have one of those good problems on his hands where he has to figure out a snap distribution for three guys in two starting spots.